2016 Impact Report: The University of Texas-Austin Story of Success
In the fall of 2010, the Alpha-Mu chapter at the University of Texas-Austin could barely call themselves a fraternity. With no housing fund or chapter savings and only 24 members, the men found it hard to focus on other aspects, such as academics and philanthropy.
What they needed was a designated leader, an accomplished Lambda Chi brother whom they could model themselves after — a guide on their journey to become a thriving chapter. Enter current High Pi, Kevin Farrell.
“I became the chapter advisor in September 2010,” said Farrell (Alpha-Mu Zeta, Texas). “The Lambda Chi educational leadership consultant gave our chapter a ‘Below Average’ rating and we only met three out of 11 operating standards.”
Under Farrell’s leadership, the chapter began making changes in operating standards, recruitment, philanthropy and community service, and alumni engagement.
It was Farrell’s vision that encouraged Alpha-Mu to recruit more members – having more members meant more consistency and stronger brotherhood. The recruiting process began to change – moving from a culture of “we like being small” to seeing the benefit of having more men in the organization.
It is the responsibility of the High Delta to create the positive energy surrounding recruitment and to motivate members. The chapter uses Lambda Chi Alpha’s Seven Core Values in recruitment by digging deeper – associating actions of recruits to what they did in high school or if they were involved in sports – to an actual value.
“The most important factor in motivating the chapter’s drive for excellence is that they proactively recruit individuals who have already demonstrated that mindset,” stated John Brechin (Alpha-Mu Zeta, Texas) and member of the Alumni Advisory Board.
Membership went from 24 in the spring 2010 to 118 in fall 2016 by instilling the Seven Core Values through their fraternity education system, as just one example. In essence, the men of Alpha-Mu wished to attract men who would make them stronger throughout their rebuilding process.
As the chapter continued to make strides in the areas of chapter operations and recruitment, they started focusing on their alumni involvement and engagement as well. Currently, Alpha-Mu Zeta boasts six years maintaining the same High Pi, 20 members on their Alumni Advisory Board and 18 alumni speakers annually.
Alpha-Mu’s current High Alpha, Dylan Scott, remarked “…it doesn’t just stop with you. You turn around and take a connection that you had and you make it easier for someone else to get their foot in the door.” These connections are made by inviting alumni to speak at each chapter meeting.
The Alumni Speaker Core Values Series has been an integral part of the success story that is Alpha-Mu Zeta. Started in 2014, this series brings in nine speakers each semester. Alumni share their real-world experiences using the Seven Core Values. A consistent, time-efficient block is reserved at each chapter meeting with a standing invitation extended to the over 2,200 Alpha-Mu alumni and any local area alumni.
According to Brechin, topics range from light-hearted experiences to the emotionally moving, presented by alumni, both old and new, from backgrounds which span across all industries, professions, education, public service and faith-based institutions.
“What results is an education and connection far greater than anyone ever contemplated between the chapter members and each speaker, which becomes a tremendous opportunity to positively impact each other’s future,” stated Brechin.
Chase Browndorf, 2017 High Beta for Alpha-Mu, says the speaker series resonates with all members for an array of reasons. The older members benefit from making connections for future careers, while the younger members see the dedication of alumni who are taking time out of their busy lives to spend with the chapter.
Through the Alumni Speaker Core Values Series, Alpha-Mu has benefitted from listening to speakers, both local and outside the area. In addition to former chapter alumni, non-Alpha Mu members also speak to the chapter and help undergraduate members learn about new ideas and opportunities.
Josh Lodolo, CEO and president of the Educational Foundation (Beta-Rho, California State – Northridge), spoke as part of the Alumni Speaker Core Values Series, and worked with the chapter during his time in development for the University of Texas. Lodolo presented topics, such as recruitment workshops, and still checks in with Browndorf even after moving to Indianapolis. Alumni from Texas Christian, Hanover and Baylor have also spoken to or worked with the chapter.
Through alumni and student involvement, Alpha-Mu became exposed to the General Fraternity and saw the benefit of where partnerships can lead them. For instance, Browndorf just finished his term on the Student Advisory Council.
Browndorf enjoyed getting to know other members of the Student Advisory Committee, and it did not take them long to realize that they all have one thing in common – Ritual. Regardless of chapter or background, they would always have that in common.
Serving on the Student Advisory Committee had a lasting impact on Browndorf.
“It definitely reinforced the idea that Lambda Chi Alpha isn’t for four years, but for life. You can be involved at the international level and not just at the chapter level,” he said.
Because of his time on the Student Advisory Committee, Browndorf is excited to continue his involvement with Lambda Chi Alpha after he graduates.
The chapter continued to utilize and see the beneficial relationship with the General Fraternity by applying for leadership scholarships to attend the 2016 General Assembly and Stead Leadership Seminar in Miami. Six Alpha-Mu delegates attended as a result of four scholarships from the Educational Foundation.
Jeremy Shahan, 2016 Alpha-Mu High Alpha, said the support from the Educational Foundation made it sound more interesting and enticing for men to attend, rather than paying for it themselves. He stated that in the past, they sometimes had trouble sending guys because of academic coursework or jobs. Scholarships created more enthusiasm and participation in the event.
As current High Alpha, Dylan Scott enjoyed meeting the hundreds of other brothers and sharing stories about similar problems or issues while attending the summer conference. He thought it was beneficial to discuss problems that similar-sized chapters faced to see how to better lead his chapter. Scott thinks it would be greatly beneficial if more members were able to attend events like General Assembly and leadership seminars through scholarships because those brothers inspire other brothers to attend.
“It’s good for members to see where rules come from, and people being a part of it, makes things a lot easier,” Scott remarked.
Brechin attributes alumni as the greatest asset in the fraternity’s success. Their skills, knowledge, and expertise are all valued by the fraternity. They provide tremendous value by just interacting with the chapter – strengthening real world skills, providing high quality mentoring relationships, and offering a network of expertise and important contacts.
“We encourage alumni to better sustain that connection after graduation, through simple initiatives that range from the Alumni Speaker Series on Core Values, to officer advising, to career coaching,” Brechin concluded.
It is through alumni support, hard work from the chapter and a partnership with the General Fraternity that Alpha-Mu rose from the ashes to receive the 2012 Lambda Chi Alpha Phoenix Award winner for improvement, followed by receiving the 2015 Grand High Alpha award, the highest award given by Lambda Chi Alpha.
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